And then came Coconut Tart

After a long evening of wrestling raw coconut out of its shell, I woke the next morning refreshed, and oh so ready for coconut tart.

Coconut tart is a sticky-sweet, rich enough for dessert but bready enough to make it sort of justifiable for breakfast.  Sort of.  And you know the fun of dinner at someone else’s house, or at a potluck, because everyone cooks differently?  Coconut tart epitomizes that variety.

Often, coconut tart is baked in a large, rectangular pan and topped with lattice-style dough strips, like so:

A classic coconut tart
Left, a pretty classic coconut tart, like those found and enjoyed from bakeries, lunchtime cafeterias (they rarely seem to make it to the dinner rush) and gas stations around Nassau. Right is pineapple tart, it’s sweeter and less exciting sister. Photo from simplyscruptiousrecipes.blogspot.com

Other folks favour a tiny tartlet design.

Teeny weeny coconut tart. Flickr photo by mpulver8.

I’ve seen tarts folded over like Jamaican patties, rolled up like corn dogs, and twisted into intricate dessert origami.  Personally, I favour the traditional design.  To figure out how to make one, I turned to my trusty copy of The Many Tastes of the Bahamas by Lady Darling.

Lady Darling’s Many Tastes of the Bahamas.  A heavy, hardbacked, and much-treasured piece of home I brought over when I first moved to Vancouver. No wonder my bags were overweight.

This book, a collection of traditional and unusual Bahamian recipes (Sugar Apple Pie?) is written by a former governor general’s wife who wanted to compile favourite treats from her experience entertaining formally.  It gives me warm and fuzzy feelings.  Not because I think the position of governor general is particularly cool (I actually find it inane and farcical for a supposedly-independent country), but because it reminds me so strongly of home, and gives me great cultural validation.  If I want to know how long to cook yellow grits or what to do with a dilly besides eat it straight up, I check this book.  Not that there are a lot of dillies knocking around Vancouver, just begging to be used, but it’s good to have a reference point, just in case.

Dilly (aka sapodilly or sapodilla). Basically brown sugar, in a thin, dusty skin. Photo from wikipedia.org.

I changed Lady Darling’s recipe in a few hardheaded ways: the obvious vegan subs of egg replacer for egg, and almond milk for regular.  Her recipe actually did call for vegetable shortening, but hydrogenated vegetable oil is little better than lard, in my books, so I used non-hydrogenated Earth Balance instead.  I cut down on the filling’s sugar (and next time would reduce it yet more).

I cheated and used the food processor with my coconut, which yielded a slightly coarser product than a grater would.  And a word to the short of patience: when making the the filling, be very conservative with the water quantity.  Like a fool, I dunked in the full two cups in haste, then repented for a leisurely 40 minutes while it it thickened (the recipe said to cook for 20).  I’m sure the type of language I used would not have made Lady Darling (or my mother) proud.

Coconut tart filling
Coconut tart filling, half an hour in.  How could something so sweet make me say such terrible, terrible things?

Fueled by vexation and hunger, I made the crust, only to find that the dough was stingy by my standards, and had to be moved from the recommended 9″x12″ baking pan into a 6″x10″ one.  Grumpiness and baking make strange bedfellows.

Coconut tart
Coconut tart. A quick two hours and three mouthfuls of soap and water later.

In the end, the coconut tart was alright fresh, and even better when my grouchiness wore off.  Next time, I’ll cut the sugar to one cup, or even less, and start with a half cup of water, conservatively adding more until the consistency is to my liking.  And I’d double up on the dough, since I like a heavier end-result.

Coconut Tart
In the end, the coconut tart was good. Perhaps not good enough to justify the inordinately long preparation time. But still good.

Coconut Tart (veganified/adapted from The Many Tastes of the Bahamas)

Crust

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 tbsp baking powder
3 tbsp organic cane sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup Earth Balance (non-hydrogenated vegan margarine)
1/2 cup almond milk
1 tbsp powdered egg-replacer, mixed with 4 tbsp water

Filling

4 cups grated coconut (one fresh coconut produced this for me)
2 cups water (I highly recommend reducing this amount, unless you enjoy stirring and cussing for 40 minutes for a filling to thicken)
1 1/2 cups organic cane sugar
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground allspice

1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
2. Combine filling ingredients in a pot and cook 20-40 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Prepare the crust by combining dry ingredients, cutting the Earth Balance into the mixture, then adding the milk and egg replacer.
4. On a floured surface, roll the dough to 1/4″ thickness and line a baking pan (I used a 6″x10″ brownie pan).  Cut the remaining dough into 1″ strips, to lattice the top.
5. Turn the filling onto the dough.  Top with remaining dough strips, cross-hatching the strips to make a lattice.
6. Bake 40-45 minutes, or until crust has slightly browned.  Good warm or cold.

It was worth it. Kind of.
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5 Comments Add yours

  1. Ally says:

    Thanks for another entertaining and informative post! 🙂

    1. You’re welcome–glad you enjoyed! I really meant to write this post several days earlier, but the coconut cracking venture apparently wore me out quite a bit…

  2. Monique says:

    Can I have a slice? Although I’m guessing you and “Fella’ ate all..great now my stomach’s growling…gee thanks Janice.

    1. Monique, I’m sorry but that ship done sail. Next time you and my coconut tart are in the same town, I will definitely arrange a slice for you, though!

  3. kyarul says:

    Yay! Funny I was wondering how the coconut tart had worked out and then you said it was on the blog. Yum. Thanks. That should tide me over for a little bit…Sorry f’ who don’ like coconut tart.

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